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METHOD ACTING RELAXATION The foundation upon which rests the "house of method".

Without this foundation, the house sinks into the quicksand of chaotic convention. Stanislavski referred to tension as the "occupational disease" of the actor. Strasberg believed that tension is the actor's greatest enemy. "Tension" for the actor, is the use of those muscles, thoughts and energies not necessary to accomplish the actor's specific task on the stage, this task being the actor's object of attention, or "object" , upon which the actor has chosen to concentrate. Strasberg's Relaxation Exercise was developed to help the actor learn to identify unwanted tension in the muscles of the body, including the neck (the final resting place of hidden tension) and the face (where mental tension manifests itself). By systematic and deliberate exploration of these muscles, the actor will identify the tension in each of them, and release that tension through an act of will. Sitting in a straight-backed, armless chair, the actor attempts to assume a position in which sleep could occur if absolutely necessary. After finding such a position, the actor begins to explore for tension. It was common practice when I learned this exercise to first raise an arm above the head and begin exploring for tension in the fingers, thumb and wrist by moving the muscles in these areas one at a time, back and forth and in circles, slowly, while the mind asks the individual muscle, "Where is the tension there?". When the mind has identified the tension, it is simply a matter of willing the muscle to "let go". This process continues throughout every muscle in the hand, arm, shoulder, neck, chest, stomach, hips, upper and lower legs, ankles and down to the toes. Special attention is given to the facial muscles, especially the brow, temples and jaw, where years of holding back unspoken thoughts, words and emotions have created habitual patterns of tension. Move the lips around, stretching them to their full limits. Stick the tongue out and move it around in circles, and in and out, extend the jaw and move it in every direction. Move the muscles of the brow up and down to release that habitual "worried" expression. While exploring in this way, be certain that you concentrate fully on identifying specifically where the tension is, so that you can willfully release it. Daniel E. Young during the Relaxation Exercise, simultaneously exploring the areas of the neck, mouth, lips, tongue, and legs, while concentrating on preventing tension from "creeping" back into the rest of the body. Photo courtesy of Me, taken in 1992. Daniel Young moved to the Hollywood HIlls in 1998, where he now works as an actor and graphic artist. It should be stressed that while exploring, the actor must not allow tension to creep back into the areas where tension has been released. If the actor is executing the relaxation exercise, and is seen sitting motionless in his chair, it is obvious to the observer that tension has found its way back into previously explored areas. When practicing the Relaxation Exercise, the actor may find unusually strong feelings welling up within. At this time, tension may re-manifest itself throughout the body, and especially in the neck and throat, resulting in a "choked" sensation in the vocal chords. The actor is encouraged at this point to help release the tension by vocalizing a long, sustained "ahhhhh" sound, or a short, staccato " HAH!" to help release both the tension and the emotion. After practicing this exercise faithfully every day for fifteen minutes to a half hour, the actor develops a "sixth sense" for identifying tension in his body, and this new awareness is especially useful on the stage, where, when the actor feels tension for one reason or another, he simply "identifies where it is, and releases it". Students have asked me why they can't use meditation, or yoga instead of the relaxation exercise, pointing out that these procedures help them attain a high degree of relaxation. I agree with them that the procedures do indeed accomplish deep relaxation. But using these procedures onstage proves entirely impractical. In the first place, these procedures do nothing to help

the actor learn to identify when unwanted tension, which often manifests itself in very subtle and hidden ways, has become a problem on the stage. But even if the actor did learn to identify this kind of tension, the actor obviously cannot stop in the middle of a scene to meditate, or start doing yoga. Strasberg's relaxation exercise, when mastered, helps the actor identify the tension as it becomes apparent, then release the tension in a manner invisible to the audience. This unwanted tension must be released, or it will block the pure expression of the actor's instrument onstage. Think of unwanted tension this way: If you place your forefinger on the top of a violin and your thumb on the bottom of the violin and squeeze with considerable pressure while the violinist plays, the violin will not sound its purest tone. Remove the unwanted tension, and the violin will sound tones as purely as possible, depending upon the condition of the instrument. But learning to properly relax onstage is only a part of the benefit of the Relaxation Exercise. While the actor is learning to relax by identifying tension in individual muscles, he is also learning to develop and strengthen the powers of concentration needed to create the life of the person, animal or "thing" he is representing in the story the author has invented. Remember, to be concentrated, you must be properly relaxed, and to be properly relaxed you must be concentrated. The extreme degree of concentration the actor applies to identifying tension in the body and mind during the Relaxation Exercise will make the exercise itself very tedious. Human beings don't seem to enjoy concentrating for extended periods of time unless the object of their attention has some immediate mental or sensual gratification for them. But the actor, not unlike the painter, the musician or the physician, must find a way to practice the more mundane elements of the art in ways that are stimulating, exciting and fun.

WHAT IS "SENSE MEMORY"? If Relaxation is the foundation upon which rests the "house of method", then Sense Memory is the structure of the house. Without it, the house is a transparent frame sitting on a solid foundation. Simply stated, "sense memory" is the remembering by the five senses of the sensory impressions experienced by the individual organism in everyday life. These impressions are stored in the subconscious. The actor can learn to recall these sensory impressions from the subconscious by concentrating on the stimuli associated with them. If you have ever been hungry enough, and thought about your favorite food, chances are your mouth "watered". This is an example of your senses remembering the taste of the food, and responding accordingly by activating your salivary glands. Ever reach into a dark closet and pick out the clothing you want to wear just by touching it? Your senses "remember" the touch of the specific material of that particular article of clothing. THE SENSE MEMORY EXERCISE The sense memory exercise trains our senses to respond on the stage as they do in life. By concentrating on the stimuli associated with a sensory experience, a corresponding response should follow. And that response will be "real", not just a conventional "indication" of the response. If the actor believes that what he is doing on the stage is real, the audience will also believe that what the actor is doing is real. And creating "real" life is part of what the "method" approach is all about. Since the author of the script has created the circumstances of his story from his imagination, the actor must know how to make those imaginary circumstances real to himself. The Sense Memory Exercise is a key to unlocking the door of imagined reality. Faithfully executing a Sense Memory exercise each day will aid the actor not only in believing the truth of his life onstage, but in developing stronger powers of concentration. Imagine for a moment you are an actor in a movie that takes place at the North Pole, but the actual scene you are doing is filming inside the studio. You are involved in a scene in which you have been stranded miles from civilization, and have little in the way of protective clothing. You find a small shelter between some rocks.

The director wants a couple of shots of you huddled between the rocks to show how miserably cold you are. One of the shots is a close-up. The conventional actor can "play" this scene by indicating the cold in the usual way; shivering, wrapping his arms around himself, blowing his breath into his freezing hands to warm them up, etc. But you want to create the reality of the cold in stark detail. To complicate your work, the studio lights are hot. The makeup artist visits you frequently to wipe the perspiration from your face, and touch up your melting makeup, and powder you. But even before the director calls "Action!", you have already begun creating the cold. You are sensorally recalling how the freezing cold affects you, because you have done this work as an exercise. You know that the cold affects the tip of your nose, and edges of your ears first. You know that your lips get numb quickly, and your fingers get stiff, and hard to move. You know that if you place your hands under your armpits, or down your pants and between your legs at the crotch, it will warm them up. You can feel your toes numbing. You warm your hands under your armpits, and place them momentarily over your ears, then back under your arms. By doing the sensory exploration of how cold affects you, you have created for the director your own unique response to the cold. No other actor can imitate you. It's your reality, and we, the spectator, believe you. KEY TO REAL EMOTIONS When the actor does a sensory exercise, he may find emotional responses occurring that he may not have anticipated. One of my favorite sensory exercises is creating a "place" my parents took me to when I was a young child. It's a stream in the country, where my dad liked to fish. When I start sensorally creating a particular visual aspect of the stream, "seeing" the cliffs that rise above it, and the "dragon flies" swarming about, and the water spiders darting to and fro, and the tadpoles and birds and clearness of the water, and cornfields and woods above the cliffs, and dozens of other details my sense of sight can remember when I am relaxed in a chair, something emotional happens to me. Or when I "feel" the hot summer air on my young skin, and "smell" the stream and the vegetation, or "hear" the wind and the horseflies buzzing past my ear, or "taste" the water of the stream on my lips while dipping into it and the fresh fish Dad caught and Mom cooked over the open fire, I am totally transported to that place, which usually results in an emotional response: melancholy, or sadness. I do not anticipate this response from that exercise. In fact, I was never melancholy or sad when I was actually at that place. I was usually very happy, unless I saw a snake or was stung by a bee. But sensorally creating that particular place at this time in my life produces a quite different emotional experience from that of the original experience. Why? I can only guess. Since that time, Mom and Dad divorced, and much later Mom died. Maybe going back to that place triggers sadness that the perfect world of the nine year old boy that was me then is missed, and longed for now. Does it matter why? No. What matters is that by creating that particular place sensorally, I have an honest emotional response, and I can use that exercise to produce the same emotional response on stage or in front of a camera. And that makes me happy! NOTE: After practicing this exercise several times, it only takes about 5 - 15 seconds for it to work. I never have to get beyond simply " seeing" the stream, and I'm where I wish to be emotionally. Actress Melissa Mayo is totally unaware of the camera as she sensorally creates a "personal object".

Although creating a simple sensory exercise, Philip Watt appears as though he might have just discovered his entire family brutally murdered. THE EXERCISE Strasberg developed these exercises over a period of time, until they became many in number, and combination. The student begins with a coffee cup as his first exercise. The idea is to find a simple coffee cup at home, fill it with coffee or your favorite morning drink, and explore every sensory aspect of the cup in minute detail every day for at least fifteen minutes. Let your mind ask the questions, and your senses provide the answers. When you have done this, you are to recreate the cup without actually having the real cup as a reference. If the exercise is successful, you will actually "see", "touch", "taste", "smell" and "hear" the cup and the coffee, as though it were there right in front of you. Your senses will faithfully recreate the cup and drink for you. 1) First, get in a chair and do the relaxation exercise. 2) When you are relaxed, begin exploring the cup with one of your five senses. I like to start with the sense of sight, because for me it is a very strong sense. As your eyes view the cup, your mind should answer every detail about the visual aspects of the cup: how tall is the cup? what is the diameter of the cup? what color is the cup? of what material is the cup made? what are the dimensions of the cup's handle? are there ridges on the cup's lips (what dimensions?)? is there artwork or ceramic design on the cup (what shape, color?)? are reflections from the lights in the room visible on the cup (where, what color?)? when do I first see the coffee inside the cup as I approach the cup to look in? is the cup glazed? are there flaws in the cup (what kind, what size?)? 3) After you have exhausted every possible question your mind has asked your sense of sight to answer, move on to another one of the five senses, such as "touch", and explore in the same deliberate exhaustive manner. 4) Repeat this process for each of the senses, so that you should be able to ask the same questions and get the same answers when you no longer have the cup to refer to. NOTE: There is no rushing through this exercise. The more time you take to explore, the better the exercise will serve you in your work as an actor. When you recreate the "imaginary" cup, it should not be pantomime, but an actual sensory exploration. You will find sensory elements of the cup appearing and disappearing as you work. This is normal. The idea is to keep your concentration 100% focused on what you are doing. Oh, by the way, developing concentration is one of the side benefits of this exercise. Did I already say that? I use that word a lot, if you haven't noticed yet. Because the bottom line is, if the actor has not developed extremely strong powers of concentration, nothing he learns or attempts to do with his work will succeed. For the actor, the powers of concentration and observation are much more highly developed than for his non-actor counterpart. It's our job to study humankind and the world it lives in, and to bring the results of that observation to our work in a realistic way. For us, that's the "art" of acting. CONCENTRATION If relaxation is the foundation and Sense Memory is the structure of the "house of method", then Concentration is the mortar that fuses the structure to the foundation. Without extremely developed powers of concentration, nothing you do as an actor will have much substance. INSTANT REMEDY FOR STAGEFRIGHT "Stage fright" properly should be termed "Audience fright", because that's what it is. When the actor becomes aware that he is being observed by "them", "out there", tension finds its way into the actor's life on the stage. The key word here is "aware". The actor must first become aware of being observed before the observers can cause the actor to suffer that state of selfconsciousness known as stage fright. So the "trick" here is not allowing oneself to become aware of the audience. For the actor, that means concentrating on a

specific object. If you are concentrated fully on a specific object, it is impossible to be concentrated on the audience. On what does the actor concentrate? The actor concentrates on an object. On which object does an actor concentrate? Ideally, the actor concentrates on an object that is suggested from the logic of the play. But this is not always the case, nor is it always necessary. A simple test proves this again and again in my workshop. Two actors are having difficulty overcoming a problem in a scene. The problem is usually one resulting from the actors' lack of concentration on a specific object. As an exercise, I will separate the actors, and give each something upon which to concentrate, without letting the other know what this "object of attention" is. I might tell Actor A to multiply the numbers 385 and 269 in his head while working the scene, and give me an answer by the end of the scene. For Actor B, I will simply require that he concentrate on his partner, and try to make sure his partner is really listening to him. The result of this simple, common exercise can be startling. The actor doing the multiplication is suddenly very concentrated, seemingly involved in deep thought -- and here's the catch -even though he is not concentrating on something that has anything to do with the play, he nevertheless appears as though he is involved in the life of the play. He seems very real. And he is really thinking on the stage. Not just saying his lines on cue. Now, faced with Actor A in a concentrated state, Actor B finds his work in the scene has taken a quite different turn. Now he has something to do, and depending upon the amount of concentration Actor A is able to command to achieve his task onstage, Actor B will have no choice other than making a sincere effort to communicate with Actor A. When this happens, neither actor is aware of the audience, but what the audience perceives at this point is two real people trying to accomplish whatever it is that concerns them in their life on the stage. THE CIRCLE OF LIGHTS Stanislavski developed a powerful exercise for his students to help them better understand and implement the use of concentration on the stage. Arranging the stage lights in a wide circle, he would ask the actor to concentrate only on the props and set defined within the circle. As the actor became comfortable with this "boundary", the circle of lights would be reduced in diameter, while props and set would remain in place. Ultimately, the circle would include only the immediate area of space in which the actor was standing, and the actor at this point was asked to concentrate only on whatever he could use on the stage within this limited area. The exercise was invaluable in helping the actor focus his concentration more specifically to an object of attention. Another exercise which is very useful for eliminating awareness of the audience is the creation of the "fourth wall" on the stage. Originally designed for use on a proscenium stage, which is bounded by three "walls", the actor was to sensorally create the "fourth wall" while looking in the direction of the audience. This " fourth wall" could be a recreation of a wall from the actor's own life, e.g. a bedroom, living room or office, etc., with the actor, during rehearsal or in the workshop or studio, taking whatever time necessary to faithfully create the wall. Obviously, if the actor "sees" a "real" wall where the open space of the proscenium arch actually exists, his awareness of the audience will be eliminated. This technique works as well in situations where the stage has more than one area open to the audience. It is then simply a matter of creating more "walls". CONCENTRATION & EMOTIONS If I have told you that the Relaxation Exercise and the Sense Memory Exercise help develop the actor's powers of concentration. I assume that, after a period of practice, you have become proficient with relaxation and the creation of sensory objects on the stage. Now how do you get to those difficult moments in the scene where it becomes obvious that who you are representing in the story is going through an extremely difficult emotional experience? There are many ways to achieve true expression of emotion onstage. Based on what we have learned up to this point, we would

choose an object that has a personal association for us, which we have tested for reliability in the workshop (and know that by concentrating on the sensory elements of this object we will produce a desired emotional response), then we would commit our full attention to the object without concern that the emotion we desire will appear. This is the most difficult part of using objects to produce emotions. You've tried it in the workshop and at home. It works consistently. But in the performance of the scene, it fails. Why? Because you wanted it to work, it didn't work. The lesson here is that you must never go for the emotion, only for the associated stimuli that have in the past helped produce the emotion. In other words, make the effort to create the sensory stimuli associated with the object of your attention without being at all concerned with the results of this effort. You cannot "will" emotions. In life, emotions are produced of their own accord as a result of certain stimuli which affect the human organism. It is the stimuli upon which you work to recreate, as you did in the workshop, when the audience was not there to "pressure" you to "perform". MAGIC IF If you have been reading these pages in order, you now have a basic understanding of Relaxation, Sense Memory and Concentration. Now you pick up your script, read it once, form certain ideas, read it again and clarify more for yourself. Then you ask yourself, "Where do I start with this? " First you start with a relaxation exercise. A good starting point for creating inspiration is a concept Stanislavski described as the "magic if". The "magic if" asks the actor to begin his work by asking, "What would I do if I were in these circumstances?" The answer to this simple question can be a springboard to creativity and inspiration, because it allows the actor to realize the fact that, after all, he is living out a fictional life, a figment of the author's imagination, with sets and props that are actually just sets and props -- not real trees or real windows, or real guns. It is the actor's job to make the props and set real to himself. By using the "magic if" the actor is granting himself permission to "believe" in these imaginary objects, in the same way a young girl believes her doll is real, or a young boy believes he is really "Tarzan ", or "Konan", or that the broomstick he is using is really a gun. It's magic of the kind that children possess, and few adults retain from childhood, for reasons that most of you adults reading this can relate to: Play is for kids: "Mommy, can I stay up tonight and wait for Santa to come?" Responsibility is for adults: "This damn Santa guy is costing me a fortune!" Honest expression is for kids: "I hate you! I hate you! I wish you were dead!" Diplomacy is for adults: "I'd like to visit John in the hospital, but I just can't find the time right now." If you haven't discovered this yet, I'll tell it to you now: Actors are still kids. They have to be. And it's a constant struggle trying to come to terms with the rest of society, which demands that the adult control the mind and body of anyone over a certain age. And that age is young ("Shh, be quiet Johnny, children should be seen and not heard" -- "Sit with your legs together Suzie, like a big girl"). Suzie doesn't know why she has to do that, and when she grows up and wants to be an actress, she'll have a hard time creating "public solitude" while sitting "comfortably" in her movie studio or stage "living room". BUT I NEVER KILLED ANYONE An actor in my workshop was questioning the use of the "magic if" in a scene he was working on. In the scene, he plays a detective who has to take a murderer to justice. This young actor, who is very talented, is a mild mannered person, who is not a " tough guy" type. The actor playing the murderer is a professional boxer in life. Actually, he is very intimidating. I'll call the actor playing the detective "Hal" because that's his name, and the murderer I'll call "Jerry", because that's his name. Hal came to me and said that the "magic if" was not working for him, because "if" he found himself in the author's circumstances in real life, he would be afraid, and probably run from the situation.

I told Hal that the author does not give him that advantage, and that he has to live out the apprehension of this dangerous person. I asked Hal to sensorally create having a gun in his jacket pocket to see if that would help. "What if" you had a gun, Hal? He tried it, and it helped some, but Hal still could not make himself believe he could actually take the murderer in, by force if necessary. I wouldn't give Hal an easy way out. I suggested he search hard to find the "real" answer to the question: "What would you do if you were in these circumstances - knowing the author is not going to let you run away?" Hal: "I'd be afraid". Instructor: "So, be afraid. You don't have to be Mike Hammer, or Philip Marlowe. You can be real." Hal: "I'd try to use psychology on him." Instructor: "Good. So use it the way you, Hal, would use it. " Finally, I gave Hal what has become known as Eugene Vakhtangov's formulation of Stanislavski's "Magic If". Vakhtangov, Stanislavski's greatest student, asked, "What would I have to do in order to do what the character does in these circumstances?" So Hal finally decided that having a prop pistol in his jacket pocket gave him enough belief to carry himself through the scene. When we observed the scene done this way, it was obvious that it was working for Hal. He was totally believable as someone not to mess with. It was a departure from the Hal everyone in the workshop has come to know and love. A quite different "character", but really just good old Hal underneath it all. What Hal did affected Jerry's work as well. Jerry wasn't as confident as he had previously seemed "in character". Of critical importance in using the "magic if" in the actor's work is exploring with absolute honesty what the actor would actually do in the often unusual circumstances the author has given. What would you really do if you were robbed at gunpoint? Is there a hero in there or a coward? OBJECTS Lee Strasberg believed that the object, and the resulting concentration from attention to it is the basic building block with which the actor works. By concentrating on an object, the actor establishes a sense of belief and faith, becoming involved in what he is doing. This in turn leads to unconscious experience and behavior. ENDLESS LIST DEFINITION: An object can be anything, imaginary, physical or fantasy, upon which the actor has chosen to concentrate. It can be a remembered sensory object, such as heat, cold, pain or a particular sound. Or it can be a relationship, past, present or " hoped" for. It can be your scene partner(s). The quality of the air you breathe can be an object of concentration. Objects can include anything offered in the script by the playwright, a shoe, a photograph, a dream you once had, a place you once visited, or something as simple as multiplying, adding, subtracting or dividing numbers mentally (or on paper, or with a calculator). An object, then, is anything on which the actor can concentrate. Learning the Alphabet Before You Write Most beginning actors are eager to jump into a scene and "play" it "fully" from the first rehearsal. They don't realize that before the concert violinist is accepted into the symphony, he had to learn to play his instrument, starting with learning the proper way to take the violin out of its case, how to hold it, position it under his chin, learn the awkward position of holding the bow, applying just the right amount of resin to it, and drawing it in a perfectly perpendicular movement across one string before even thinking of placing that first finger at the precise point necessary to sound a pure tone. After hours of practice, he is ready to perform "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". I encourage actors in the early stages of our work to choose only one "object of attention" when presenting scenework, and to concentrate as fully as possible on whatever the object might be. As an example, if an actor is working on a Tennessee Williams play, and the script indicates it is very hot where the story takes place, the actor might choose working on "heat" as his object of concentration.

I spent several weeks in Montgomery, Alabama on two different occasions. I was there with Melissa to help her move the contents from her departed grandmother's house, to our house in St. Louis, Missouri. Originally from St. Louis, and having lived in Los Angeles for 21 years, I thought I knew what heat was. It was so hot in the house, without air conditioning, that I could only pack one or two boxes before I would have to take a rest. On some days, I could only work two or three hours, before I had to give it up for the day. And during this time, I was always aware of how the heat was affecting me, just in case I would "need it" in my work. Besides the intolerable stream of salty sweat constantly running down my bald head right into my eyes, and the hot, smelly, waterlogged tee shirt and shorts and underwear, and the lack of tolerable oxygen, I was also affected emotionally by the heat, and became an intolerable grouch with Melissa. Little things that normally wouldn't bother me, or might even make me laugh, became monumentally aggravating for me. If the actor will begin by creating just that sense of heat in the Tennessee Williams play he is doing, he will be creating behavior and "character" that he could not possibly think up by objectively saying to himself, " Oh, it's hot. I'll bring a hankie and wipe my brow once in a while", and may find that simply creating the heat can carry him through entire scenes. Relaxation, Concentration & Objects Within the following "story" is found the "secret" of all great acting When a cat is observed in the kitchen toying with a piece of string, we see it is using only those muscles necessary to concentrate on its object of attention, the string, in order accomplish its specific "task": to conquer the string. All other muscles are completely relaxed. Then the dog runs in from the other room, looking for food. Suddenly the cat's body springs to life, but still uses only the muscles necessary to concentrate on its new object of attention, the dog, in order to accomplish its specific task, which has now changed. He has momentarily forgotten the string, and his new task is now: to back the dog down. The dog's object of attention, which had been "food", now becomes "the cat", and his previous task, to sniff out food in the kitchen, now becomes: to challenge the cat. We observe closely that the dog is using only those muscles necessary to accomplish this task, and he's not looking around to see if anyone is watching him. With the same object of attention, the cat now uses the muscles necessary to accomplish his next task: to scratch the dog's eyes out. We observe that the cat is so fiercely concentrated that nothing we do might distract it from its object of attention. But the dog is not impressed, and while still concentrating on his object of attention his new task becomes: to kill the cat. At this moment, and not before, the cat, while concentrating on the same object of attention, will call upon every muscle in its body necessary to accomplish its next, and possibly final task: to kill the dog. Realizing the cat's full determination, the dog decides it's not worth losing an eye before it kills the cat, so it makes a subtle transition to its previous object of attention, "food", and its final task becomes: to save face. So the dog growls viciously for a moment, sniffs the air briefly for food, pretends to hear a burglar in the next room, and leaves as unpredictably as he entered. Never trusting a dog, the cat maintains the same object of attention momentarily, then begins slowly relaxing the muscles it has been using. After reclaiming its territory, the cat notices the string dangling from the cabinet drawer. At this moment the cat's concentration is again focused on its original object of attention, the string, and accomplishment of its original task: to conquer the string. What does the actor learn by observing the cat? The actor learns that the cat only uses the muscles necessary to accomplish whatever it is that the cat is concerned with in the moment. And the actor learns that whenever the cat is concentrating on an object of attention, it has no concern for the observer, even though the observer is very interested in the cat, who is very watchable in that state of concentration. And because the cat and the dog were very watchable in their "relaxed" state of concentration, the story of "How the playful cat could have been killed by the mischievous dog if it were not prepared to give up its life to accomplish its task" was presented with

crystal clarity to the observer. THE LESSON: Relax, choose an object, concentrate on it fully, and fill every micro-second of your life onstage with a logical sequence of the objects of your attention. SUBSTITUTION Let me remind you that Relaxation and Sense Memory are the foundation and structure of the "house of method". Concentration is the key to the house. The success of any of the other elements of this work depends on a full understanding and mastery of these basic concepts. RULE OF THUMB: Use these procedures only when you cannot overcome a problem in a scene by naturally inspired means. Let's say the play demands that you are in love with another person in the story. In life, it is an unfortunate coincidence that you actually have no warm feelings at all for your fellow actor. Maybe you have the opposite feelings. What do you do? Fake it? No. You could, as one example, look into the eyes of your scene partner, and sensorally create the eyes of someone you actually do love (or the hair, lips, or nose, etc.). If your powers of concentration are strong when doing this, you will forget who you are working with, and magically believe it is whomever you have "substituted" for that person. Using a substitution to create another person has also been called by some who use this work a "personalization".The reason for this, is because it involves substituting a person, rather than another physical object. Substitutions can work for literally any situation for which you need them. When I was doing a scene at the Actors Studio-West from " I Never Sang For My Father", by Robert Anderson, I tried an imaginative substitution that helped me deal with the fact that in the story, "Mother" had recently died. In life, my own mother was still alive. The scene takes place in "Dad's" study. In early rehearsals, I had seen a small cigar box on the stage as part of the set. decided to use it to help keep me "feeling the loss of Mom". I

Looking at the cigar box, I would sensorally create a tiny coffin, and when I would lift the lid, I would sensorally create my mother in the coffin. Sound strange? It worked, and that kind of technique will work for you if you have developed your concentration through the Relaxation and Sense Memory exercises. Ever find yourself in a play where you have to handle a prop as though it were a rare and expensive antique? Of course, the actual prop you have in your hands cost $1.25 at the local Goodwill store. But if you substitute something from your own life that has personal value for you, the audience will see that the stage prop really means something to you. And you will be relating to that prop in a specific, rather than a general way. You can use substitutions for any number of situations, choosing any objects necessary to help you create the life you are living on the stage. You can look at the head of John the Baptist on a platter and see a "puppy dog" to give the impression that you are insane. Of course, if you are an actor, you probably are a little insane anyway, huh? ANIMAL EXERCISES You are a relatively young actor, medium build, a basically happy going person who has an overwhelming desire to play the role of a man in his late sixties who has been beaten down by the challenges and responsibilities of life. Can you do it? "Of course I can", you say, "I'm an actor. I'll put on some makeup to make me look older, and act beaten down. " And you do the part. The critics give you passable reviews, remarking what a wonderful makeup job it was, and how you acted so beaten down for such a young actor. And your friends tell you how good you were. But inside, you know something was missing. You know that the makeup and "acting" so beaten down didn't really transform you into the "real" man is his sixties, who was "really" beaten down.

So you go to the library and do some research to see what you can find out about the Pulitzer prize winning play, and the actor who brought the role you longed for to life. "Aha, here it is! Lee J. Cobb played Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's "Death Of A Salesman"." And as you investigate, you discover that Cobb was also a young man when he played the part, and stunned the world with his riveting characterization of the old, beaten down salesman. " How did he do it?", you wonder. Your research finally leads you to Cobb's "secret". He created Willy Loman with an "Animal Exercise". "Huh? What the heck does that mean?" you wonder. And your research leads you into "method" acting, and you become fascinated. So fascinated that you decide to quit acting for two years to study this approach to the actor's art. You learn about relaxation, sense memory, concentration, the "magic if", substitution and other concepts you hadn't known of. Then it comes time for you to do an "Animal Exercise". The instructor tells you to study an animal. Any animal. It could be your pet bird. Or you could go to the zoo and study the elephant, like Lee J. Cobb did, so that he could create the "weight of the world on his shoulders". And you are further instructed to be very specific in your observation of the animal. What is the animal's posture? How does he move? When does he move? Why does he move? Can you imagine what he might be thinking? Begin physically imitating his movements. Be as specific as possible. If it's a gorilla you are studying, and the gorilla places its hand somewhere on its body in such a way that you might not place your hand on your body, especially in public, then you must overcome your inhibitions, and imitate the animal, even if you are in the public zoo. If the animal is inactive for a period of time, you become inactive, as if you were "mirroring" the animal. You study patiently. Look into the animal's eyes? Does it seem intelligent? Tame? Wild? Dangerous? Try to transfer the animal's thoughts to your own thoughts. What are you, "the elephant" thinking as you move from the spot at which you have been standing for quite some time to a tree fifty feet away to pick a few leaves to eat? Why did you move now, and not five minutes ago? Study the animal for as long and as often as you can before you bring your work back to the workshop next week. And so you do as you are instructed. You have chosen the elephant, because you want to see if you can understand what Lee J. Cobb experienced when he created that role you hungered for. And you do it in the workshop. And your friends in the workshop tell you afterward, "I didn't recognize you. You had a very different look in your eyes, and your entire posture was totally changed. " Now you feel very encouraged. But you have one question that remains unanswered. You ask the instructor, "What do I do next? I can't play this part on my hands and knees." The instructor tells you the next step is to make the animal "human". In this case, the elephant, now has legs and arms. Keep the physical and psychological aspects of the animal, and transform them to the human counterpart in yourself. The following week, after working on the exercise again several hours a day, with this "adjustment", you bring the exercise back to the workshop. And again your friends there are impressed and amazed by your transformation. You feel ecstatic with the results of your efforts. And suddenly, you have to play Willy Loman again. SONG AND DANCE Strasberg described the result of this exercise as an "X-ray into the problem of the actor's "will" actually carrying through what it is the actor is trying to perform. The exercise has two parts: the "song" and the "dance". THE SONG

The actor first relaxes in a chair before performing the exercise. Then he is asked to choose a simple song, one that requires no effort remembering the tune and words, such as "Happy Birthday", which he will use in the exercise. While maintaining the relaxed state, the actor stands facing the "audience", and is asked to sing the song one syllable and note at a time, filling his lungs fully before releasing each note. So the first syllable, "Hap", would require the actor 's full volume of breath, the next syllable, "py", is repeated in the same manner, and so on throughout the entire song. While performing the song, the actor should maintain eye contact with the individuals who are observing the exercise, and be aware at each individual moment what feelings he experiences as the exercise progresses. [Sounds easy, so far, right? But what often happens, is that the actor is unable to carry out the exercise as directed. The "will" to do the exercise is there, but the carrying through of the will is inhibited by problems of expression within the actor. For instance, the actor may be unconsciously expressing the song with the hands, or facial muscles. Or the actor may rock back-and-forth, although having been asked to remain relaxed and motionless on the spot. We see tension manifesting itself in the actor, although the actor is not aware of the tension. The instructor stops the exercise to point out to the actor that he is moving his hands, or moving his eyebrows up and down, or rocking back and forth, and then asks the actor to resume. It is no surprise to the instructor, but a valuable learning experience for others watching, that the actor performing the exercise usually returns to the same patterns of "habitual behavior" he had before the exercise was stopped. So the instructor again stops the actor. This process may continue throughout, while often the actor cannot seem to "will" himself to be motionless while performing the exercise. Occasionally, actors doing this exercise begin to feel a variety of emotions bubbling up. They may suddenly begin laughing, or start to cry, or become angry. When this happens, I instruct the actor to relax, and continue singing through the emotions. It is noted that many actors have difficulty maintaining eye contact with those watching. The exercise is stopped to remind the actor to keep eye contact. But often, after a moment or two after resuming, we see the actor avoiding the eyes of those watching. THE DANCE One thing we learn from the "Song" part of the exercise is that the actor often is not aware of what he is doing at the time it is happening. This awareness needs to be developed in the actor as a "sixth sense ", so that the actor knows what he is doing while he is doing it, without sacrificing his sense of belief in the "scenic truth" he is experiencing on the stage. For this part of the exercise, the actor is asked to sing the same song in short, staccato, rhythmic bursts, with each syllable of the song attended by a "dance " movement. On the syllable "Hap", one position of the dance is performed, on the syllable "py" another position, and so on throughout the song. Often, at this stage, the actor will be observed standing at the starting position, thinking about how to proceed, trying to "figure out" a suitable "dance" for the song. At this point, I tell the actor, "JUST GO!". Still, the actor hesitates. I say, "GO, NOW! DON'T THINK ABOUT IT, JUST GO!" So the actor begins, and we usually see a predictable dance pattern that is carefully thought-out in advance by the actor as he progresses from moment-to-moment. In several cases, I have had to ask someone from the workshop to take the stage and demonstrate for the actor what is expected in this part of the Song and Dance exercise. This does not always help, which serves as a lesson regarding the value of this exercise. The difficulty with this part of the exercise is what we describe as "getting out of your head" and "into pure, unpredictable expression". Although actors know what is required in a scene, they must repeat it each night at performance, while giving the impression that it is actually happening for the first time. The "dance" part of the exercise is helpful in illustrating to the actor how difficult it is to express pure impulses on the stage. The "mind" wishes to safely guide the actor through every phase of his involvement on the stage. When that happens, impulse dies. remember the first time I was asked to do the Song and Dance exercise at the Strasberg Institute in Los Angeles, in a "method" class taught by Dominic DeFazio, one of the best teachers of this work I have ever seen. Although I had no problem with the

exercise, and was able to carry out what my "will" was demanding of me, a little voice in the back of my head was saying, "Oh, oh...there's no place to hide here. "

Method Acting Procedures Private Moment Public solitude", the actor's ability to appear "private in public", is a concept that Stanislavski pondered, and for which Strasberg developed an exercise based on Stanislavski's reflections. When the actor is on the stage, he is of course in a public theatre. But what he is doing on the stage should appear to the public to be private. When the actor creates this sense of privacy, he does not go out "to join the audience", the audience comes to where he is. Strasberg felt that the Private Moment exercise was not of value to actors who have no difficulty in involving themselves completely, without concern for the public, or for actors who love to do emotional things anyway, without regard for the public. I have found in my workshop that all of the actors can benefit from the Private Moment exercise, and assign it to each of them at various stages of their development. THE EXERCISE For this exercise, the actor is asked to do something on the stage that they do in life, but it is so private, that if someone walked into the room they would have to stop doing whatever it is. Strasberg emphasized the difference between "private" and "personal" by pointing out that although some things a person may do are personal, the person may not stop doing them when someone comes into the room, and may at one time or another share the personal thing with someone. The private thing the person would not wish to share, and would stop doing if someone came into the room. Picking such a private activity, which might be something as simple as dancing a certain way, or singing with abandonment, or cleaning the inside of the nose with an index finger, the actor practices at home, making the effort to become aware of the sensory aspects of the room, and the personal behavior associated with the private activity. When the exercise is performed, the actor sensorally creates the same room, concentrating fully on recreating it on the stage, and then begins the private activity. This exercise, if executed with success, can unlock keys to suppressed expression, and transform otherwise inhibited actors to a state of "public solitude". Method Acting Procedures Speaking Out This is a technique that is useful in the studio or workshop setting, and designed to help the actor overcome moments of difficulty concentrating while doing an exercise or scenework. It's one of my favorite techniques, because using it helps to identify immediate problems with blocks to concentration. Walt and Sue are doing the scene from Tennessee William's "A Streetcar Named Desire" in which Blanche and Mitch meet for the first time. It is obvious that things are working well for both of them, that the objects of attention on which they have chosen to concentrate are serving them properly. Sue comes to the line, "Sorrow makes for sincerity, I think", but hesitates. A flicker of doubt crosses her face. She then "speaks out" her frustration, "Dammit! I keep hearing in my head Vivien Leigh's voice saying that line... this is so frustrating." Having identified the "block" (hearing Vivian Leigh's voice in her head) grounds her "in the moment". She shares with the others in the workshop that she too knows what they perceive: she is having a "moment of difficulty" at this point in the scene. Rather than

continue on this "false note", she verbalizes the problem. Then she may take a moment to relax, re-focus her concentration, and when she feels "there", the line "sorrow makes for sincerity, I think. " now rings true. Walter, affected by her new found truthfullness, responds with, "It sure brings it out in people. " And the scene continues. Everyone in the workshop here knows what Sue was doing when she " spoke out" her thoughts on the stage during the scene. The voice of Vivien Leigh from the first movie version of the play was ringing in Sue's inner ear, causing a break in her concentration. She felt she could not say those words truthfully, but would end up imitating Vivien Leigh's unique "Blanche". Sue doesn't want to imitate another actress. Sue wants to own the "life" of Blanche. So Sue employed the technique we know as "Speaking Out" onstage in her "moment of difficulty". The actor can "Speak Out" any problem relating to his work in the moment. If the actor feels tension, he can, wherever he is in the scene, remark, "I feel tension. It's blocking me.", stop what he's doing to correct the problem (tension), then continue with the scene. This technique serves at least two valuable purposes. It let's the instructor and students know that the actor onstage is aware of a problem, as well as the cause of the problem. It also serves as a "grounding" mechanism for the actor, who, when "Speaking Out", is automatically saying something that is true and real. Regaining this sense of truth often acts as a springboard to the next moment of truth, and the next, and so on. I have discovered since I have been teaching, that occasionally actors become overly dependent on the technique of "Speaking Out", and half the scene becomes the actor's thoughts about what his problems are, rather than addressing the basic problem itself, which is usually a break in concentration. At this time, I ask the actor to change his object of attention, and try the scene without using the technique at all. Method Acting Procedures Moment To Moment When my workshop was in session , the members of the workshop at TheatrGROUP would go as a group to see a play being performed somewhere in St. Louis (typically on a Friday or Saturday evening, so we could discuss what we saw on Sunday, in the workshop. We saw a play one evening in which part of the action in one of the scenes involved a group of right wing radicals who had staged a robbery. One of the actors was stationary at the vault, and as another would run past him, he would throw a bag of "money" to the actor, who would catch it in mid-stride, and keep running. When the last actor to receive the money ran past the pitcher, he failed to catch the bag of money. What did he do? He kept running, without picking up the bag of money. The actor who was tossing the money then ran offstage in the same direction as the others. Did he pick up the bag of money? No. He ran right past it like it didn't exist. He had plenty of time to grab the bag, but didn't. Why? Because it wasn't in the "blocking", I guess. The actor couldn't do it, if it wasn't "blocked", if it wasn't "the way it was rehearsed", or "the way it was supposed to happen." What did the audience think when they saw that mistake? Probably something like, "Oh, that poor actor missed that bag...I'll bet he was embarrassed." What did the members of the workshop think? "Why didn't the actor who was running just stop and pick up the bag?" I replied that he was probably afraid to break up the "tempo" of the scene, which was all action and no substance, so he just left it there. Another student asked, "But why didn't the actor who was throwing the bags of money pick the bag up when he ran offstage? " I responded, "For the same reason. It wasn't rehearsed that way. For them, the only option is to ignore the mistake as though it didn't happen, rather than destroy the director's "pacing". Maybe you've seen actors accidentally knock a drink off the table, and leave it where it fell, "pretending" it didn't happen. Living "moment-to-moment" on the stage allows the actor to accommodate any unexpected changes in what has previously

happened in the scene. Just as in life, you never know when your best friend might, in a sudden outburst of anger, smack you in the face. But you deal with it anyway, and get on with the scene. The actor chooses a sequence of objects on which to concentrate in a play. He then applies his full concentration to those objects. But he must be prepared to deal with events and circumstances which cause his object of att ention to momentarily change. And he must deal with these changes in the moment they occur, and with the same logic life itself would dictate. Once in a while, something unexpected happens on the stage that ends up becoming one of the more memorable moments of the play. When the actor is confident enough to live "moment-to-moment" on the stage, he finds himself praying for these "happy accidents". At TheatrGROUP, I will only block scenes when absolutely necessary for purposes of lighting, or to emphasize a specific moment in a scene. I have found that when the actors here are left to their own resources in rehearsal, they usually justify every movement on the stage much more realistically than I could do so by concocting a blocking diagram. And where they are onstage can change nightly, as long as it is justified by the actor. Yes, I am a lighting director's worst nightmare. Justification I referred to the term "justification" in the previous section about "Moment-to-Moment" by stating that I prefer to let the actors block their own scenes in most cases, because I feel the actors are well trained enough to justify where they are and what they are doing on the stage. The actor starting out in this work will be doing a scene in which he is seated in a chair. After a few moments of dialog, he will get up, and go over to his partner, or look out a window, or just generally pace around the stage. Why does he do this? More than likely, he feels that just sitting in the same place is not interesting enough for the audience, and some kind of movement might spice things up. Of course, he shouldn't be thinking of the audience at all. Or he might be experiencing the kind of tension that results from proper lack of concentration on a specific object, and thinks that by moving around, the observer will think he is concentrated on something. In these instances, I ask the actor to explain why he got out of the chair at a particular moment, and paced about the stage, or walked over to his partner, and back to the chair. The actor is not usually aware of making the specific movements in question. Or he might say, "my character is nervous, therefore he felt like pacing." I then remind him that he is the character. Unless the actor has a specific reason for making a movement on the stage, and can make that reason real, and believable to himself, I won't accept his explanation. But if the actor says, "I walked to the window, because I created the sound of a truck backfiring "outside", and wanted to see what it was, just as an exercise in justification.", I accept the movement as justified, even though it may not have been a logical choice for the scene at that moment. Of course, if the actor had really created such a sound, I would probably not have questioned the movement in the first place. Occasionally, a director will need to have an actor in a place onstage where the actor doesn't feel comfortable in the moment. Actors trained in this approach to the actors' art have learned to justify such "blocking" by creating for themselves real reasons for accommodating the director's seemingly illogical requests. The Justification Exercise requires the actor to jump and move around the stage in "abandonment", and when the instructor says, "Freeze!", the actor is asked to justify what he is doing in the position in which he has found himself. This exercise is a great deal of fun for the observers, but a little awkward for the actor doing it. The actor might end up with his hands and knees on the ground, with one leg up in the air. I ask, "What are you doing?" Often, the actor is stuck for an answer. He can be seen thinking. Then he might say, "I am doing exercises." I'll tell him, "No, that's too obvious. You can do better than that. Use your imagination. "

When he finally says something like, "I'm teaching my dumb dog how to use a fire hydrant.", I let him off the hook and call up the next actor. The energy levels in the workshop are quite high at the end of a round of justification exercises. Method Acting Procedures Affective Memory The "Affective Memory" is one of the most widely known procedures in all of "method" acting. It has obtained a reputation that ranges from "dangerous" to "genius". The history of its development and use is a long one, and I will refer you to the "books" button below for more information on that topic. My purpose here is to attempt to simplify this procedure for actors reading this, as well as guests who are simply curious about so-called "method" acting. ACTING WITH YOUR SCARS Shelley Winters, one of the world's great actors, had said that the actor must be willing to "act with your scars". Simply translated (which is not easy, because Shelley Winters was not a simple person), it means that when it is time for the actor to reveal those deepest, most frightening or painful experiences written by the author for the character he has created, the actor using our approach to the work has to find similar experiences in his own life, and be first willing, and then able to relive those experiences onstage as the "character". As a general example, let's assume in a scene, you have just discovered your mother has been brutally murdered, and she was the only friend you had left in the world. The actor using this work will find an event or parallel situation from his own life's experiences, and set about to recreate that experience using an Affective Memory. Most of us, fortunately, have never had a loved one murdered. But everyone has experienced emotions in life that could parallel that situation. As an example, the trauma that some children undergo when parents decide to divorce might leave an everlasting scar in the memory of the child. Victims of child abuse may also find material to draw upon. Lee Strasberg recommended that the actor use memories that are at least seven years old, to avoid risking psychological trauma. So the actor searches his memory for the parallel event, and finally decides to try to create its reliving. Back to Basics When the actor has found a parallel situation from his own life he wishes to try to relive for the life of the person in the story, he begins his work by sitting in a chair, and doing the Relaxation Exercise. Actors attempting an Affective Memory for the first time should do so only under the supervision of a qualified instructor. Any number of unusual responses can result from this exercise, including hyperventilation and anxiety attacks. After relaxing, the actor begins a Sense Memory exercise that will help with the recreation of the remembered event. The more specifically the actor creates the objects of the memory, the more fully the Affective Memory will work. Strasberg stressed that during this part of the exploration, the actor should avoid "going for the emotion", by trying to "will" it to come on its own accord. He recommended the actor simply concentrate his full attention on the sensory aspects of the various elements of the actual memory: Where did the "event" take place? If in a room, describe the room in as much sensory detail as possible. Try to remember what you may have been wearing that moment, then sensorally recreate the clothing. What color was it? What material? Feel the material. Describe the patterns on the clothing. What season was it? What time of day? What objects are in the room with you. Touch them, see them, hear them, smell them or taste them. If the actor dedicates his sensory apparatus fully to exploring these sensory memories, without regard to the resulting emotion, he may find at any point during the exploration, the reliving of the event, with the associated emotional experience is, without warning, triggered.

It also happens that the actor may be expecting to relive an emotion associated with a specific event from his life, and a quite different emotion is produced than expected. Something which might have been very painful in childhood, might cause us to laugh hysterically now. When the resulting emotion is not as expected, the actor notes the result of the exercise to use for reference in other scenework that may call for that particular response. Then he tries once again to find the object that will appropriately affect him for the work in which he is presently involved. For most actors, simply recalling a past event will not produce an honest and intense emotional response. Relaxation and Sense Memory is the "combination to the safe", where personal treasures of the actor's memories are stored away for the lifetime of the actor. On one occasion at the Actors Studio-West, I remarked to Shelley that it is my own personal belief that some actors, herself included, had a special ability to execute an Affective Memory by instinct, and such ability was bestowed upon only a very special and gifted few in our profession. I continued with the premise that although many can be trained or guided to use the Affective Memory successfully, there will always be those who will never respond effectively to it. She disagreed with me. But I am still convinced, and accept her argument as her acknowledgment that she doesn't accept herself as the genius she was. Method Acting Procedures Given Circumstances The actor picks up the script, reads it, forms first impressions about the story, and "character" he is to play, and is eager to start "acting" using these first impressions as a blueprint for his work on the role. With this approach, the actor's work seldom progresses past a superficial understanding of the life of the character in the author's Given Circumstances. The actor using this approach may pick out parts of the script which seem to "indicate" certain emotions the "character" feels at that point in the story, and try to duplicate in his own way these emotions. The results from working this way are usually mechanical in nature. Because the actor has "figured it all out" after reading the play once or twice, the more experienced artist will observe the actor and conclude he is "in his head", or "too intellectual". The preceding pages at this site have given you many techniques and procedures to help you achieve the "creative state", or "the moment of inspiration" from which creative work can develop. If you have read the preceding pages, you know by now that analyzing a part involves much work if you are to attain a level of artistic achievement beyond the superficial. GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCES We learn to relax. We learn to use sense memory. We develop our powers of concentration. We learn to choose objects upon which to concentrate. Then we make choices, deciding upon which objects we will concentrate at various moments of the story. Ideally, the "blueprint" for our work will be a string of objects, tied logically together to support the "spine", or "theme" or "main objective" or "concept" of the author's play.

One or more choices can be made for each scene in the play, but all choices should tie in to the spine of the play, as do all scenes. At times, one choice may be enough to carry the actor through several scenes.

Where Do These Choices Come From? First of all, it's a good idea to have the "spine" of the play verbalized. During production, this is usually determined by the director, who should have a clear interpretation of the author's intent. But actors working on scenes in class will have to ask themselves, "What is this play about?". This question does not mean "What is the plot of the play?". Anyone can determine the plot of the play by simply reading the play. The actor has to ask, "What is the play about in terms of the human condition?", or "What is the author trying to say to the world with his work?". The answer to this question should be given in forty words or less. The more clear the answer, the fewer words needed to express it. When the actor (or director) determines what the play is about in human values, the process of making choices moves from the realm of "general" to "specific". Once you decide what the play is about, you ask, "How does this scene tie into what the play is about?", or "What is this scene about in terms of the play?". After you know what the play is about, you can begin to explore the author's Given Circumstances. BURIED TREASURE The Given Circumstances of the play can include anything the author has supplied with his story. Some examples include: Place (where the scene takes place) Sensory Elements (heat, cold, looking out a window, physical handicaps, etc.) Relationships (to the other characters and to the "event" of the scene, what others in the play say about you, etc.) Period Specific choices regarding the period of the play For a better understanding of making choices for a scene, let's examine the above examples individually: Place: Let's suppose the scene takes place in the living room of an apartment. You "live" there. Now, the set may look nothing at all like your own living room. It may be quite different in all respects. You need to make a choice that will make that "imaginary" living room your living room. We need to believe that you believe that you live there, and that the "set" is in reality your own living room. Simply accepting that condition as a fact may not be enough to make it personal for you. If you have the opportunity to spend some private time on the set, you can begin to behave "as if" it were your apartment. How do you behave when you are alone in your living room? How is this behavior changed when you are not alone in your living room? You can use sense memory to create a wall of your own living room as the "fourth wall" of the apartment (the invisible wall separating you from the audience). If you are successful in creating this personal wall, you may start kto feel "more at home" in your imaginary apartment. So you "choose" to create that wall to help you believe you are actually in your apartment living room. After some practice with this, your sense of belief will become second nature for you. Sensory Elements: In the author's story, your mother has recently died. It is obvious you are having a hard time accepting this fact. At a certain point in the story, it is indicated by the author that you cry while talking to another character in the story. The Sense Memory exercise can be very useful at this point. It can lead you to an Affective Memory, or you can use your imagination to sensorally create an "imaginary object" upon which to concentrate. For example, a minute or so before you, the actor, knows you must cry, you can sensorally create a loved one lying dead in a coffin. If your senses respond truthfully, the desired result will happen of its own accord. You won't need to force it. So, creating the coffin with your dead loved one in it becomes your "choice" for that moment in the scene. Given Circumstances should not be taken lightly. If the author indicates it is extremely hot in your apartment, your "choice" to create the heat must be very specific. Extreme heat can have unpredictable effects on people. If you simply "indicate" the heat with conventional gestures, you will miss subtle changes in behavior that take place in you when you are truly hot. Sensory creation of heat will help create that behavior. Just making the effort to concentrate on the sensory elements of the heat will strengthen your concentration onstage, which in turn makes you more believable to the observer. Relationships: Think of stage relationships in two ways. 1) You have been given a relationship to the other actors on the stage by the author. 2) You have a relationship to the other actors on the stage as fellow artists involved in the same production. Obvious, right? But one of the author's Given Circumstances tells you that "Actor A", who is your worst enemy in real life, is your beloved wife in the story. How can you convince the audience that you truly love this bitter foe playing opposite you?

You make a choice to do a Substitution, which involves sensorally creating a person you really love in place of the actor you are working with. If you employ your full powers of concentration to this task, it will work for you. Let's examine another example. The author has given "Actor B" a line in the story in a scene in which you are not present that says, "That Stanley is really a brute boor." You are Stanley. Although "Actor B" never says this to your face, you the actor have this information to play with. The choice you make concerning your relationship onstage with "Actor B" can now be filled with an inner life personal to you. It will be a more specific relationship. In making your choice, you can either use the actual "Actor B", or you can again use a Substitution. Period: When does the play take place? If it is a period play, you will more than likely be costumed in clothing of that period. Is wearing the costume enough to convince the audience that you are "Cyrano"? Of course not. Shelley Winters says "You have to understand, a man who wears a sword walks differently than one who doesn't. You have to have a sense of period costumes, how they can change people's bodies and minds." And study the language. Colloquialisms of various periods in history have very specific meanings that may transcend our modern comprehension. What will the actor 100 years from now think when he picks up a script from 1999 which has a character saying, "Oh, too cool."? THE MOMENT BEFORE What were you doing before the scene started? Were you backstage chatting with your fellow actors? I hope not. I hope you were concentrating on what you as the character were doing before the scene takes place. Exactly where are you coming from, physically and emotionally? If you are already onstage at the top of the scene, what are you thinking? Why is this scene taking place? What would happen if this scene didn't take place? What does the author give you about your previous circumstances? Whatever it is, it should be part of your present circumstances. It should fill you. It should be part of your life in the moment. When analyzing a script, don't take anything for granted. You may find the key to your entire performance buried somewhere in the middle of the script in a line spoken by another character while you are not even present in the scene.